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Obama, Bush decry deep US divisions in Trump era



Donald Trump

Washington, Oct 20: Former US Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have voiced concern about the current political climate in the US, urging Americans to reject the politics of “division” and “prejudice” in comments seen as a veiled rebuke of Donald Trump’s leadership.

In separate and unrelated appearances, Obama and Bush warned that the US “was being torn apart by ancient hatreds that should have been consigned to history long ago” and called for addressing economic anxiety through common purpose. While not directly addressing Trump, neither left much doubt whom and what they had in mind.

Obama, who has returned to the campaign trail for the first time since leaving the White House, was speaking at a rally in New Jersey on Thursday to support Democratic candidate for Governor Phil Murphy, the New York Times reported.

“Some of the politics we see now, we thought we’d put that to bed. I mean, that’s folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st century, not the 19th century.”

“We are rejecting a politics of division. We are rejecting a politics of fear,” Obama said.

“We are embracing a politics that says everybody counts, a politics that says everybody deserves a chance, a politics that says everybody has dignity and worth — a politics of hope.”

He touched on similar themes at another rally in Richmond, Virginia, saying: “We’ve got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry, to demonise people who have different ideas, to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage.”

Speaking just hours earlier in New York, Bush delivered a speech in which he warned of threats to American democracy and a decay of civic engagement.

Bush offered a blunt assessment of a political system corrupted by “conspiracy theories and outright fabrication” in which nationalism has been “distorted into nativism.”

“Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” Bush said.

“There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned – especially among the young.”
Americans, he said, have “seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty”.

While Trump seeks to raise barriers to trade and newcomers, lashing out at targets with relish, Bush defended immigration and free trade, denounced nationalism and bigotry and bemoaned what he called the “casual cruelty” of current public discourse, the Times reported.

“At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.

“We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.

“We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places,” Bush said.

Before his election last year, Trump was highly critical of both Obama and Bush, describing each of them at one time or another as “perhaps the worst President in the history” of the US.

Since his inauguration in January, Trump’s combative style and direct public comments on several issues have caused controversy. He has regularly blamed the media, which he says does not focus on his achievements and instead chooses to concentrate on what he describes as “fake news”.



”Trump wanted to sell Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria”

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017 and caused an estimated 2,982 fatalities and US $90 billion in damage, according to official data.




Trump Sell Puerto Rico

Washington, July 13 : US President Donald Trump considered selling Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the destructive Hurricane Maria in 2017, former acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke has told the New York Times.

In an interview with the newspaper on Friday, Duke said that “the president”s initial ideas were more of as a businessman”, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Can we outsource the electricity? Can we sell the island? You know, or divest of that asset?” Trump reportedly said, according to the New York Times interview.

Nonetheless, the idea of selling the US territory was never seriously considered or discussed after it was raised, Duke said.

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017 and caused an estimated 2,982 fatalities and US $90 billion in damage, according to official data.

Trump has criticized Puerto Rican officials for their management of the relief fund that his administration provided for the island”s recovery. In November 2018, White House officials told Congress that Trump didn”t want any additional relief funding to the island.

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Pope ”pained” by Hagia Sophia mosque decision

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the first Muslim prayers would be held in Hagia Sophia on July 24.




Hagia Sophia Mosque

Vatican City, July 13 : Pope Francis has said he”s “pained” by Turkey”s decision to convert Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.

Speaking at a service in the Vatican, the Roman Catholic leader added that his “thoughts go to Istanbul”, the BBC reported.

Hagia Sophia was built as a Christian cathedral nearly 1,500 years ago and turned into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of 1453.

The Unesco World Heritage Site became a museum in 1934 under Turkish Republic founding father Ataturk.

But earlier this week a Turkish court annulled the site”s museum status, saying its use as anything other than a mosque was “not possible legally”.

Pope Francis confined himself to a few words on the issue: “My thoughts go to Istanbul. I think of Santa Sophia and I am very pained.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the first Muslim prayers would be held in Hagia Sophia on July 24.

Shortly after the announcement, the first call to prayer was recited at the site and broadcast on all of Turkey”s main news channels. Hagia Sophia”s social media channels have also been taken down.

Islamists in Turkey have long called for it to become a mosque again but secular opposition members opposed the move.

Defending the decision, President Erdogan stressed that the country had exercised its sovereign right, and he added that the building would remain open to all Muslims, non-Muslims and foreign visitors.

The Pope is one of several religious and political leaders worldwide who have criticised the move.

The World Council of Churches has called on President Erdogan to reverse the decision. The Church in Russia, home to the world”s largest Orthodox Christian community, immediately expressed regret that the Turkish court had not taken its concerns into account when ruling on Hagia Sophia.

It has also drawn condemnation from Greece, and Unesco said its World Heritage Committee would now review the monument”s status.

One of Turkey”s most famous authors, Orhan Pamuk, told the BBC that the decision would take away the “pride” some Turks had in being a secular Muslim nation.

“There are millions of secular Turks like me who are crying against this but their voices are not heard,” said Pamuk.

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Iran’s Khamenei says all must help fight ‘tragic’ virus resurgence



Ali Khamenei

Everyone must help fight the “tragic” resurgence of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei says.

Speaking in a video conference to parliamentarians, Khamenei stated that Iran’s “enemies” fail to achieve their “anti-Iran goals” despite strong pressure on Tehran.

Earlier, Khamenei criticized the US for using “knee on neck” policies on the whole world and also accused the US of creating COVID-19.

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